Live vs. Recording
I saw and heard Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds on Thursday night at the Beacon Theater in NYC. For an added treat, Sharon Van Etten opened the show and later joined the Bad Seeds and the Harlem Voices as background singer. Cave opened with a few tunes from his newest LP, Push The Sky Away which is a wonderful record if somewhat lyrically superficial. As a show, the show was first-rate. When Cave started in on his older heavier material, the audience stood up and many remained so for the duration. At one point Cave encouraged as many people as could to squeeze down the isles toward the stage, much to the chagrin of the security forces on hand. "It's OK" Cave told them and added, "Don't worry, it's a union thing".
As I watched Nick Cave strut his skinny stuff all over the stage, less like the defrocked preacher of old and more like a man on a musical mission, I thought how silly we are to think we can reproduce this without him. Without all of them. A concert is a performance for all of your senses, a recording isn't. This should be painfully obvious and I for one consider watching Sharon Van Etten and Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (spitting) from a few rows back to be a very different experience compared to staring at the space between my two speakers. Ideally, listening to records will bring us closer to the music and with some care and attention paid to the quality of this experience we can for those moments in time get lost in it.